When we pulled up to the hotel our first thought was “wow!”. It was big, old and very nice having recently been remodeled. The Radisson Royal is right on the river. There is also a metal detector and two armed guards at the front door as well as a few security guys stationed throughout the vast lobby and reception area.
It had all the fancy shops, a lot of marble and of course, a Rolls Royce dealership inside the hotel. We checked in, took a shower and crashed into a coma after our long journey.
The breakfast was fantastic and offered several foods that we were unfamiliar with. Marla and I both went with omelettes and the usual Western foods also nibbling on some new treats.
After breakfast we strolled along the river front encountering a light rain and took a few photos. A red double decker tour bus had parked near the hotel and we needed no further prompting, we took it. The price was 700 rubles each or around $10.00.
The Russian prices are actually quite nice, like our fancy hotel on a vagabond budget, and after the initial sticker shock and subsequent conversion, not bad at all.
The City Tour bus was like so many we have taken in Europe with English speaking guides and narration in English provided through ear phones. Great to sit, listen and look on a day of jet lag. Oddly we both felt good and lag-free for the entire day.
The bus took us to our goal of Red Square. Why is it called Red? The Word red in Russian also means beautiful. All the postcard monuments are within easy walking distance which was nice given my lame foot. There was St. Basil’s cathedral, the Kremlin wall the GUM shopping center and a massive children’s book festival in progress in Red Square.
The weather held out and we had some ice cream before strolling through the shopping center. GUM is very ornate, very high end and very big. It has about 200 boutiques and was built in the late 19th century. It consists of several halls with high arched glass ceilings and marbled terraces. We didn’t spend a a kopek there.
The bus ride back through the city offered impressive views.
Our first impression was that Moscow is nice. Many of the buildings are similar to parts of Paris and New York. The cars here were all German, Japanese and American made. The people are fashionably dressed and polite.
That night we were to meet the rest of our family for dinner at the Cafe Pushkin and grabbed a taxi to get there. My brother, his wife and my mother with her friend were all there for dinner. The dinner was fantastic and the ambiance was well suited.
Two of our desserts featured fire and an expert presentation.
After returning back to the hotel we took a tour of the top of the hotel that had been recommended. After 3 elevator rides and some stairs we were rewarded with a 360 degree view of the city at night. It was breath taking, and not for the faint of heart.
Well done Moscow, well done.